MacAdam writes "For Hafif, who did graduate work in the Italian Renaissance and Far Eastern Art, that history is deeply embedded in her paintings, which reflect the affinities between Europe and the East, especially in the rich coloring and architectural allusions. Such translation extends to literary evocations as well, with images that evoke words and poetry in their rhythms and shapes, much in the way words can convey the idea of images, and the shape, as in concrete poetry."
Saskia Wendland remembers travelling from Germany to New Mexico to meet painter Agnes Martin.
Wendland comments: "It seemed like everything came together—the way she painted, the way she thought and lived and her appearance—the way she was standing in front of me. That was an amazing experience. It felt very honest. And that is something I deeply admire... She seemed very young to me in a way. Of course, she was 84, but her expressions felt young... I mean young in the sense of pure and honest. Her movements were slow and calm, and her eyes were warm and open."
Carolina A. Miranda interviews art critic and Agnes Martin biographer Nancy Princenthal about the artist on the occasion of the upcoming Agnes Martin retropsective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The show will be on view from April 24 – September 11, 2016.
Princenthal comments: "I think — and this is subjective — that the nature of the work she did reflected a way to establish a sense of order in her visual world and her perceptual world and her emotional world. It was urgent to her to establish, one after another, to establish these experiences of transcendent calm."
Malone writes: "Ryman’s work is often spoken of in terms of a pronounced quietude, but a full appreciation of its extended roots—effectively accomplished in the two Dia shows—can enrich the experience... The Chelsea show concentrates on color, highlighting the artist’s early development of his exclusive and by now signature choice of white paint. The Beacon show concentrates on his attentiveness to the ambient light that has such a profound effect on a viewer’s experience of the work. The Chelsea show echoes formal concerns similar to those of early modernism, while the Beacon show seems to touch upon that period’s infatuation with spirituality, a phenomenon that was itself a revival of a much older aesthetic."
James Kalm visits an exhibition of works by Robert Ryman at Dia:Chelsea, New York, on view through June 18, 2016.
Kalm notes: "This show presents a wide survey of various experimental and conceptual approaches to the project of painting. Since beginning his practice in the mid 1950s, Ryman has limited his materials to mostly white paint, square formats, and an extraordinary variety of grounds and surfaces onto which he applies paint. These twenty-two paintings record the evolving bodies of work the artist has developed from the late 1950s until the mid 1980s."
Jeff Jahn remembers painter Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015).
Jahn writes: "As one of my favorite artists what I appreciated most in Kelly's work was his way of sharing the otherwise impossible world of pure, concentrated observation. As subjectivity demands, conveying what one individual apprehends necessitates a kind of distillation and transposition into abstraction. Usually something is lost in that process, but not with Kelly. It ends up being visually and spatially richer and more pervasive... closer to an alphabet for the basic architecture of reality than painting... The act of looking for Kelly... in a very personal way was directly related to Matisse, someone few artists have been able to build upon. But Kelly did and similarly his work remained vital right to the end. Perhaps that is the greatest of his Kelly's gifts as a an artist... the way things in his eyes/hands never seemed to be diminished in vitality, observation and specifics."
Peter Schjeldahl reviews a retrospective of works by Robert Ryman at Dia:Chelsea, New York, on view through June 18, 2016.
Schjeldahl writes: "Ryman’s reductions of painting to basic protocols are engaging only to the extent that you regard painting as an art that is both inherently important and circumstantially in crisis. You must buy into an old story, which bears on Ryman’s extreme, peculiarly sacramental standing in the history of taste. Ryman’s is a kind of mute art that, generating reverent and brainy chatter, puts uninitiated citizens in mind of the emperor’s new clothes... Yet, actually, the populist fable rather befits the serious aims of Ryman and his avant-garde generation, who insisted on something very like full-frontal nudity in artistic intentions. The emperor—roughly, high-modernist faith in art’s world-changing mission—could retain fealty only if stripped of fancy styles and sentimental excuses. That was Ryman’s formative moment. It was succeeded by a suspicion, now amounting to a resigned conviction, that contemporary art is an industry producing just clothes, with no ruling authority inside them."
Allie Biswas interviews curator Courtney J. Martin about the work of Robert Ryman on the occasion of an exhibition of works by Ryman at Dia:Chelsea, New York, on view through June 18, 2016.
Martin comments: "it was never just white paint: at the very beginning, he was simply experimenting. In many ways, it’s not just the achromatic factor, there is also the question of surface depth. Sometimes he applied paint with a palette knife, resulting in dense, encrusted surfaces. In other works, the paint is sheer and thin, like a wash. Viewers get caught up in looking at the white and yet we're missing what’s really happening. We are missing the application and the method. For many of the works, colour has been applied underneath, and then been painted over with white. When you look at the work chronologically, each painting is a challenge or a question that Ryman answered or complicated with the next painting that he completed."
Altoon Sultan blogs about two exhibitions currently on view at David Zwirner Gallery, New York: Giorgio Morandi and Donald Judd (both on view through December 19).
Sultan writes that at the Judd show: "Here was work that was intensely formal––about shape and dimension and repetition and balance and weight and color––that was so beautiful in its clarity and reserve that I was deeply touched. ... Walking upstairs ... where a beautiful show of Morandi paintings and prints was hanging, I was struck by a similarity of concerns for the two artists. Although Morandi's forms aren't minimalist, he painted the same simple objects again and again in different configurations, playing with basic ideas of relationships of form and space and color. Whether the objects are in a line at the front edge of a table or compressed against its outer edge, I feel that the things depicted are more than just studio props; they become, like the Judd sculpture, essential forms, touching on transcending the ordinary."
Roberta Smith reviews works by Robert Ryman at Dia:Chelsea, New York, on view through June 18, 2016.
Smith writes: "In effect, Mr. Ryman has spent his career circling Point A, proving that there are an infinite number of ways to meet painting’s basic requirements... It helps to think of Mr. Ryman as a kind of philosopher-carpenter with an inborn, almost mystical love of paint as paint. He wants us to understand its sensuousness while he demonstrates that paintings are in effect 'built' from scores of decisions and details, and then proceeds to challenge our definition of his medium. 'Is this a painting?' 'Is that a painting?' could be taken as the main credo of his art. He doesn’t always provide easy answers."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.